Austin Energy considers $525 million green energy addition

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin held a public meeting Monday to consider spending more than $500 million to add more green energy to the power grid.

The proposed move would feed five times more solar power to Austin Energy customers than is currently offered, working towards the goals presented in the city’s Climate Protection Plan.

GOING IN-DEPTH // Austin’s efforts to use more “green energy” to power the city

The Webberville Solar Project includes more than 127,000 solar panels stretched over hundreds of acres.

On average, the field pumps out 30 Megawatts of electricity. That is enough to power 5,000 homes.It’s all part of the city’s long-term renewable energy plan.

This project costs about $10 million a year for 25 years. That adds about 60 cents to customers’ bill each month.

The Webberville Solar Farm is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Click here to register for a tour.

“We have a goal of getting our carbon footprint down to 1995 levels by 2020,” Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis said.

The proposed expenditure would go towards building two massive solar farms in West Texas. Using power generated there, existing wind energy, and by phasing out the Fayette County coal power plant, Austin Energy says they will provide 35 percent of their customers’ power from renewable sources.

“We have a 200 megawatt goal of solar resources,” Weis said. “This is moving us towards fulfilling that goal. In fact, we’ll exceed it.”

The move would point Austin Energy in a greener direction, but how would it impact your electric bill?

“The key point is there will not be an increase in customers’ rates due to these acquisitions,” Weis said. Leaving a greener future for the next generation, and keeping a bit of extra green in your wallet.

“We’re reducing the carbon that we use overall in serving our customers,” Weis said. “It’s good for the environment, and it does not raise their bill. In fact, it may lower it a little bit.”

City Councilors will vote on the solar energy purchase on Thursday.

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